Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Onion chutney with a twist

I hate mixing up flavours that are best enjoyed separately. I know there are umpteen people who go gaga over hot gulab jamuns served with a scoop of vanilla ic cream. I am not one of them. I enjoy both, but give them to me in different bowls, please. The same goes for gajar ka halwa and ice cream. I cannot stomach the two together, though my stomach has ample space to accommodate the two separately.
By now I am sure you are wondering where on earth I am going with this argument. Well, it so happens that Kalyani sent me a mail about a month back asking if I would be interested in participating in Magic Mingle - a challenge where we have to use two given ingredients to create a dish. The combo chosen for the first mingle is Cinnamon and Chillies. Ever since she revealed the first two magic ingredients, I've been racking my brain - trying to think of a way in which I can use these two together. I had to get out of my comfort zone to even think of using cinnamon in a spicy dish. I definitely knew that I did not want to make a pulao/biriyani as this is the one dish which I like and usually make where this combo rules the roost. It definitely had to be something new.
I came up with this recipe as I was peeling some sambar onions with the intention of using it for a chutney to go with rotis. The thought of adding cinnamon to it is something that only a fellow blogger wanting to create something new for an event will understand.
What you need:
Shallots/pearl onion/sambar onion - 1 cup, peeled
Red chilli - 3 (adjust to taste
Cinnamon powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Jaggery - a small piece
Oil - 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Grind the onions and red chilli to a smooth paste. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. When they pop, reduce the heat and add the ground paste, salt, cinnamon and jaggery. Stir well. Cook until the raw smell of the mixture goes away, stirring every now and then.
Note : None of the photos that I have of this chutney look very appetising. Hence, they are not shared here.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Beginning the year with a book review

The new year has brought in its wake a resolve in me to eat healthy., I am not dieting. I don't think I can ever do that......but I have included(it's the same as saying resolved to include, right?) more fruits, greens, sprouts and veggies in my diet. A few days into the New Year, I received a mail from blogadda asking if I would be interested in reviewing Bhanu Hajratwala's Gujarati Kitchen. Not one to miss out on a chance like that, I immediately clicked Reply and said Yes.

The book arrived neatly packed, and promptly delivered. At first look, it looks like a simple, no-frills, no-nonsense cook book. It begins with a......hold your breath......20 page introduction of the author, including 2 pages filled with photographs. Though long, I found the introduction well written and quite interesting to read. I don't think I've ever read so much about the life of any other cook book author.
The section after the intro contains General tips for the budding cook - ranging from cooking times, preparing and washing ingredients, and deep frying to sprouting. The basic pantry ingredients, and utensils used in Gujarati cooking are also explained briefly.
The magic of Gujarati cooking lies int he blending of spices.....and the author gives us the recipes of some basic spice blends. What I really liked is how she has, after the recipe, told us what quantities of ingredients can be used to make just enough for a single use.
The recipe in the book are categorized into Veg & non-veg starters, veg and non-veg main dishes, breads, rice, accompaniments with rice, sweets, chutneys, pickles, tea time snacks and mukhwas (mouth fresheners).
All the recipes are written in an easy-to-follow manner. The one thing that could be improved on is the pictures in the book. All the pictures are grouped together just before the start of the relevant section. For eg, just before the recipes of main dishes, there are two pages containing photos of different main dishes. I feel that it would have been better if the photo had been on the same page as the recipe.
To me, a cook book review can never be complete without cooking something from its pages. The dish I chose to cook from this book is called Bhaji ne vatananu shaak(Spinach and green peas curry).

What you need:
Spinach - 2 bunches, cleaned and chopped coarsely (roughly 6 cups)
Fresh green peas - 1/2 cup
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - a few generous sprinklings
Oil - 2 tsp
Onion - 1, chopped
Salt - to taste
Grind together:
Ginger - 2 inch piece
Fresh turmeric - 1 inch piece (I grew my own....YAY!!!)
Garlic - 6 cloves
Green chilli - 3 (adjust to taste)
Amchur powder - 1 tsp

Heat oil in a pan. Add fenugreek seeds and heat until they start to brown. Sprinkle asafoetida and stir for a few seconds. Add the chopped onion and saute until translucent. Now add the ground masala. Stir well for 2 minutes. Add the chopped spinach, peas, and salt. Mix well. Add about 1/4 cups of water, cover and cook until the peas soften. If you find that the curry still has water left in it, remove the lid and heat until all the moisture evaporates
Serve with roti/rice.
This review is a part of the Book Reviews Program at Participate now to get free books!